Daily Dispatches
An exhibitor from Loughborough University demonstrates the use of a toilet during Reinvent The Toilet Fair in New Delhi, India.
Associated Press/Photo by Tsering Topgyal
An exhibitor from Loughborough University demonstrates the use of a toilet during Reinvent The Toilet Fair in New Delhi, India.

Web Reads: Flush for life


The importance of toilets. Could there be something in Muslim and Hindu religious codes that makes Muslims in India more likely to use toilets than Hindus? A study by economists shows “that the entire gap between Muslim and Hindu child mortality can be accounted for by a particular kind of sanitation externality”—toilet use vs. open defecation. The finding came as a researcher sought to answer the question of why Indian children on average are shorter than African children. “The analysis also showed that Hindu households residing in villages with majority Muslim population experienced lower child mortality than Hindus living among other Hindus. The reverse also held true—Muslims living among Hindus had higher mortality rates than if they lived among Muslims.”

Cartoons. Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson reappears briefly on the funny pages, penning three Pearls before Swine strips to raise money for charity. You can read how it came about on this Stephan Pastis blog post, which has links to the three strips.

Documenting decay. Using Google Street View Time Machine, a Detroit-area blog documents the decay of particular houses between 2009 and the present. It shows graphically how blight is contagious, spreading from house to house on the same block. Gizmodo explains the project. And in rapidly gentrifying San Francisco, the process moves in reverse. Google Street View Time Machine tracks the city’s gentrification.

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Editing and baseball. Before Roger Angell was famous for his baseball writing, he was a noted fiction editor at The New Yorker magazine. In this short profile, the 93-year-old talks about what he learned from his stepfather, EB White, and how he got baseball players to open up.

Cyber control. The New Republic looks at the potential for internet companies like Google and Facebook to engage in digital gerrymandering. “Digital gerrymandering occurs when a site instead distributes information in a manner that serves its own ideological agenda. This is possible on any service that personalizes what users see or the order in which they see it, and it’s increasingly easy to effect.” The story gives an example of an experiment in 2010 to see if Facebook could encourage people to vote during the midterm elections. The random experiment showed that FB nudges are effective, so what’s to stop Mark Zuckerberg from using that power to further his own ends?

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.


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